Championship communication with your dental lab: Part II

Dr. David Rice compares good communication with your dental lab to college football, and the parallels can help you develop a stronger relationship if you take the lead for your team.

Nov 7th, 2014
College Football

It’s getting close to the end of the season, but there are still a few more weeks of College Game Days left. College football teams take the field, and everyone’s alma mater has a shot at a victory. Football season got me to thinking. In dentistry, how do we give ourselves that same shot at victory? How do we try to win that championship?

In my 20 years of clinical practice, if I’ve learned anything, it’s that championship teams are championship communicators. Our first downs, just like on the football field, come a yard at a time. When we communicate well, we win games.

In part I of Championship Communication, I talked about defense winning championships, and how defense in dentistry translates to defining expectations on both the dentist side and the lab side. So what’s the second ingredient in Championship Communication? A consistent offense!

Once our defense is set and we know what defines success, we can build an offense that scores points in our patients’ books, and as players in this game, we can win.

The playbook
Dentists Success starts with you. You’re the quarterback and you call the plays. Your job is to make sure you give your teammates every chance to succeed. When you deliver, your team shines and you get the glory.

Clinical team ­– Your job is to be ready to carry the ball, and to execute the plays as they’re called. Can you improv? You sure can. You’re an experienced player, and oftentimes you’re going to see the field more clearly than your dentist. The key is when you do, let the quarterback know.

Lab – You’re the offensive line. When you’re strong, the clinical team is unstoppable and the offense marches down the field with ease. Can you improv? You bet. Just like the running back/clinical team, you have excellent field presence and perspective, and every great quarterback knows the key to success is a great offensive line.

The plays
Championship offenses run the ball well, even when the other team knows the run is coming. If we execute the tried and true play consistently, we’ll be a force to be reckoned with. So, if we break down the game film, what does success look like? What do we need to do to make it happen?

Dentists – We need to read the field. What’s the situation? What are the esthetic demands? What type of occlusion and habits are we dealing with? What’s are ability to isolate, retract, and eventually isolate again? What are the challenges we’ll need to overcome. A conversation on the front end with a patient is a whole lot easier than one on insert day, when the insert just isn’t going to happen. Once we’ve answered these questions, we can select a material that best fits our patient’s needs.

Clinical team (dentist included) – We need the lab to understand and see everything we’ve learned. We need pristine impressions. We need a bite registration, maybe a second stick bite that shows our lab the ideal incisal plane and midline. If we want the lab’s best effort, we need a facebow. We need to translate color. Digital photography makes that easier than it’s ever been, so snap a few pictures and be sure you have shade tabs in them. The best cameras out there are good, but our labs need a reference. Don’t be shy; take pretreatment and prep shots. Finally, we need a detailed prescription. Write it out, sketch it out, and for goodness sake, fill it out. This is our version of John Madden’s whiteboard.

Labs – Just like in Part I, you need to let us know that we’ve given you everything you need, and we need to know ASAP. We dentists get that your timing is different than ours, but if we’re going to call a patient because we need to give you more, we need to make that call as soon as we can, not the day before the scheduled insert. That never goes over well with patients.

Those are the important basics. Tune into Part III and we’ll take a special teams look at some of today’s technologies that can elevate our communication to an even higher level. Go team!

David Rice, DDS, is on a mission to improve our profession by leading the next generation of dentists to grow successful lives and practices. The founder of igniteDDS, Dr. Rice has spoken to 35 dental schools and residents across America on practice building, team building, and wealth building. Dr. Rice is a private practitioner, educator, author, and mentor who connects students, young dentists, and professionals from diverse dental-related businesses.

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